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Writing and publishing a financially successful book is fantastic, your readers, the publisher, and everyone associated with the project benefits. And seeing your name in print is the best. The other side, publishing a book that flops, can crush your self esteem and hurt your ability to publish additional books. So, here’s a way to enhance your chances of a success while minimizing your chances of failure. We suggest you do this before you write the book. It could save you a great deal of time and effort better spent on another project.

If you’re wondering if this works for fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, or a screen play, it will, because you’re researching your project’s financial viability by comparing it to other projects that are successful in the harsh reality of the marketplace. 

The information you uncover in the vetting process will be of tremendous help to you. First, it will show you in black and white whether your book is worth pursuing from a financial perspective. Second, and just as important, it will assist you in the book’s marketing. Third, it will provide guidance on the possibility of finding an agent and/or a publisher. So, you see there’s no downside to vetting your book. Especially when you consider how little time it takes in relation to the vast amount of work and time required to research, outline, write, edit, create a cover, publish, and market a book. As you can see, that is far preferable to working for six months, a year, or maybe longer only to find out that the book is not commercially viable. 

Why Competition is Necessary

Competition is necessary to your success because it shows that there’s a market for your book. No competition means that there is no market. Next you evaluate the competitive titles to determine if your book adds to the literature, or rehashes what others have already published. Okay, you find that your book provides additional information, or a way of looking at the material that is different from the others. Good. Your book adds to the literature. If it doesn’t find another project. 

Knowing who published your competition is important because you also know who did not publish it, and those who did not may be looking to compete in this field. This is especially true if your competition was sold at auction where publishers actually bid against each other. This is invaluable information in that you now know now who to approach and who not to approach. This is powerful knowledge; use it. 

An excellent source to help you determine who is buying what in the publishing industry is Publishers Weekly magazine. In its pages you will find just about everything you need to know in the publishing industry. Better yet, you don’t need to purchase a yearly subscription, as they offer PW monthly in digital form or digital plus print. Digital is available at $19.95 for a month and $219 yearly. Print and digital are $24.95 for a month and $249 for a year. See PW online at . The subscribe link is top right. On your phone, you’ll find it on the top of the opening page.

What You’ll Need To Vet Your Book

This requires surprising little in the way of resources and time. All you will need is a notebook, something to write with, and some time visiting brick and mortar book stores and online book sellers. We recommend starting by visiting your local book store to record the title, author, copyright date, agent (if any), and the publisher of competing books.

So, okay, you’ve gone through the book store and your project is going ahead. Now do the same thing at online booksellers. When that’s been completed and your project is still viable, use two or three search engines like: Google, Google Scholar Search, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, Bing, Ask, Yippy, or Dogpile to find any titles not traditionally published by a small or academic presses, or perhaps by a foreign press. You might also want to search to see if anyone is blogging a book not yet ready for publication.

For those of you publishing in academia, science, or other erudite venue, we suggest that you use search engines, and blogs, in your field as this type of book may not be found in the popular press.

If you do find a book like yours – don’t lose heart – you’re not finished. How old is the book? Have procedures, technology, laws, etcetera changed, or been updated? Was the book published in English, or sold in your market? Was the book widely disseminated or used only locally as a text book? What are the qualifications of the author?

A Few Words For Fiction Authors

You may be asking yourself how you’re going to compare the book you’ve written because – well it’s fiction – and there may be nothing exactly like it on the market. So how do you evaluate it? By answering this question, “Will this book compete successfully in the marketplace?”

Thoughts For Success

‘Fish where the fish are’ is a deceptively powerful statement despite how simple it sounds. You need to bring your book to a market where it will be respected by people who grasp its earnings potential. To that end, use the information gained in the vetting process to target the marketing of your book to agents and publishers who have the greatest probability of buying it. If you’re self publishing, use the information to target your advertising to your specific readership. In my second book, When Social Networking Fails, we discuss how to extensively profile your readers so you know who you’re targeting. And, by knowing about your reader, you can then determine what they read, listen to, and watch. With this information you can concentrate your advertising and social media campaign to reach that specific audience.

You’re likely saying to yourself that this is no fun or that you’d rather be writing, but remember what a wise man once told me, “It ain’t got to be easy; it just got to be done.” When you’ve done the research, you will know the market and can act from strength. This knowledge you gain in the vetting process can reveal the gateway to your success because you’ve brought the right product to the right market at the right time. 

About the Author 

Wayne English has published four books (available on Amazon), soon to be five, and is locally, nationally, and internationally published. Wayne speaks and lectures on writing, publishing, and marketing and blogs on these topics at MarketWrite. 

Visit (the Tools section is especially helpful) and follow him on Facebook ( and Twitter (@wayneaen).